And the greatest of them all -- WrestleMania 23
July 27, 2016 6:54 PM   Subscribe

Deadspin's Samer Kalaf spends entirely too much effort on explaining why Stone Cold Steve Austin's "Stone Cold Stunner" finisher is the most important wrestling move of all time.

Starting from an insane 24-minute YouTube video of Austin applying the Stunner to virtually everyone in and around the WWF/WWE in the 1990s, Kalaf explains the execution of the move, its history, and its impact on wrestling's "Attitude Era", which catapulted Austin (and frequent Stunner over-seller The Rock) into the stratosphere.

Bonus: Note what time the Deadspin article was posted.
posted by Etrigan (17 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've been a lifelong wrestling fan, although truthfully I missed almost all of the attitude era because I didn't have a TV at the time. Some friends of mine were fans primarily during the attitude era.

The stunner is one thing that brings everybody together. It's beyond iconic. It's almost a perfect move.

I have seen a man Rock-flop bump for a stunner on an icy Philadelphia sidewalk, and it was a tailbone-busting thing of beauty. And you better believe that it started with a gut kick and double birds.
posted by uncleozzy at 7:09 PM on July 27, 2016


The stunner really does tell you everything you need to know about wrestling. It's a simple move that can be sold beautifully in a million different ways, and the selling of a move is all there is.

That video of the Rock selling hundreds of them is marvelous.
posted by selfnoise at 7:18 PM on July 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


My mom teaches elementary school in Baltimore. She had a student once named Stone Cold. That was his first name. Not Stone. Stone Cold.
posted by starvingartist at 7:27 PM on July 27, 2016 [15 favorites]


There's a surprising amount of overlap between how Austin talks in that article about managing audience perception and how Jackie Chan talks about editing movies in this edition of Every Frame A Painting - about how you need to let the audience have an extra beat to see, understand and really feel what's happening.
posted by mhoye at 7:32 PM on July 27, 2016 [6 favorites]


My number one takeaway from those montages: Austin takes a body capable of impressive feats of athleticism and uses it to deliver a kick that somehow instantly makes him look like a 55-year-old 300-pound trucker. I mean, it certainly sells the "authenticity" of the move and the fact that literally anyone could do it, but watching those clips with the Rock doing that rolling flip thing afterward makes me glad that at least ONE of them showed up with the intent of putting on some kind of a performance.

The "Attitude Era" is when I figured out that I was into wrestling for a whole different reason than a lot of people, and honestly Steve Austin was a big part of that. I just couldn't understand the attraction in watching Austin swilling beer and being an only-slightly-larger-than-life version of a guy that I could meet in real life and immediately not want to be around, to say nothing of the dramatically increased on-screen sexism. Give me the huge, sometimes supernatural, often cartoony characters of the WCW era any day.
posted by IAmUnaware at 8:47 PM on July 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


"There are two types of people when it comes to opinions on pro wrestling: Those who hate it for being “fake” and staged, and those who love it for what it is. The Stone Cold Stunner is one of those rare elements of the business that ought to win over both crowds...The kick is painful; the jawbreaker is performance."

Huh. Not knowing anything about wrasslin', my impression was the exact inverse: the jawbreaker looked really potentially dangerous and painful, while the kick looked like "here, let me touch you with the sole of my boot."
posted by Bugbread at 10:15 PM on July 27, 2016


How has that clip of Trump taking the stunner not gone viral? because Clinton's people do not understand the Internet is why
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:43 PM on July 27, 2016 [3 favorites]


That was his first name. Not Stone. Stone Cold.

That's what you get when you combine Puritan and wrestling naming conventions. e.g. By-God-he's-killt-that-man Barebone.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 12:55 AM on July 28, 2016 [5 favorites]


How has that clip of Trump taking the stunner not gone viral? because Clinton's people do not understand the Internet is why

Because that clip will only endear him more to the non-college educated white male.
posted by splen at 4:15 AM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because that clip will only endear him more to the non-college educated white male.

I dunno. In a 30 second spot, you'd have time to run the clip, and then replay it in slow motion (so you can see how badly he flubs the sell) over some ominous music while the commentary starts.

Donald Trump is a man with a troubled past.
Cut to a cartoon-y stock chart showing WWE stock price in 2009
In less than a week owning the WWE, he drove its stock price into the floor.
Cut back to the Stunner, because why the hell not?
Donald Trump couldn't sell a Stone Cold Stunner with Steve Austin next to him. How do you think he'll stand up to Putin?
Quick cut to closeup of HRC
I'm Hilary Clinton, and can I get a hell yeah?
posted by Mayor West at 4:42 AM on July 28, 2016 [15 favorites]


In less than a week owning the WWE, he drove its stock price into the floor.

[Derail] They landed in some hot water with the FCC over that stunt when they put out one of their usual fake press releases announcing the "sale" to Trump. They quickly learned a valuable lesson that week about a key difference between being a private company and a newly public one. [/Derail]
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:46 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


Most Important is a hard sell. The article itself makes a pretty good case for Johnny Ace's Cutter, given how many other beloved moves it inspired, and honestly I think that would have been my vote even before reading the article. (This assumes we're limiting the pool to finishing moves...I guess if you really want the single most important move in professional wrestling it's probably something completely boring but totally necessary like some hold or whip or clothesline. Chin Lock?)

However, I will absolutely accept what the article actually seems to argue, which is that the STS is some combination of the most perfect and best Finishing Move in professional wrestling history. Reasons not even focused on in the article: Relative safety to both competitors, ease regardless of size/strength/weariness of competitors, safe in all environments and no locational requirements. Just a terrific move. Perhaps the best piece of evidence that the Stunner was perfect: it was Stone Cold Steve Austin's only finisher for the entire duration of his career (as that character).
posted by jermsplan at 6:50 AM on July 28, 2016


I guess if you really want the single most important move in professional wrestling it's probably something completely boring but totally necessary like some hold or whip or clothesline. Chin Lock?

The headlock. Matches are built around headlocks, because headlocks are the rest periods and when wrestlers plan out the intermediate part of the match they haven't "written" yet. (It's real easy to whisper to your opponent when you're in a headlock or holding them in a headlock; moreso than a chinlock, because one wrestler's face is mostly hidden.)
posted by mightygodking at 8:44 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm Hilary Clinton, and can I get a hell yeah?

What a closer! Thanks for the morning laugh.
posted by wyndham at 8:46 AM on July 28, 2016


It's a hilarious move because I can't even tell what the mechanism of the alleged stunning blow is supposed to be. Is he supposedly banging the victim's chin against his knee? Whiplash to the neck? Shoulder to thorax?

In any case, it's glorious when someone like The Rock does a full-body rebound like a cartoon character getting knocked across the room with a single blow.
posted by straight at 9:23 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


The headlock is good, mightygodking, but I'm going to nominate the Irish whip. Because it establishes wrestling physics, and once you accept that 'I'm going to swing you by your arm so hard that you will be unable to stop yourself bouncing off the ropes back to me' works, then you can accept that almost any other move makes sense.

(also here's Rusev crushing his sell of the Stone Cold Stunner at this year's Wrestlemania)
posted by sporkwort at 12:34 PM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


straight: "It's a hilarious move because I can't even tell what the mechanism of the alleged stunning blow is supposed to be. Is he supposedly banging the victim's chin against his knee? Whiplash to the neck? Shoulder to thorax? "

It looks to me like he's separating the head from the body. Like trying to rip someone's head completely off, failing, but in the process dislocating every bone in the neck and paralyzing them from the shoulders down. Which is why the Rock's sell is so great. "He has permanently paralyzed me! I am selling it by actively and energetically flailing!"
posted by Bugbread at 7:38 PM on July 28, 2016 [1 favorite]


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